Reflection on the LLNE Fall Meeting

by Rebecca Valentine, Associate Librarian, UMass Law

The fall meeting topic The Fog of War: International and Foreign Legal Research was certainly timely; I think more than anyone realized it would be at the time it was organized. The keynote and subsequent four sessions approached the topic differently, but still shared the common theme of the ways emerging technologies are impacting aspects of international law and information.

However, I must admit that my biggest take away was not just that we need to consider the impact of technology on information, disinformation, and the dissemination of both. But something more personal. About six months ago I transitioned from being a reference archivist to being a public services librarian at the UMass Law Library. While I loved the collections and the work I was doing at the archives, it was time to move on to learn new skills and better utilize the research skills I had already built up.

Entering the field of law librarianship has been both a challenge and a pleasure. The work can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to learning the vocabulary needed to help students and faculty. Sometimes I need to do an hour of research before I can even begin working on the reference question I received. Those situations can be a blow to my confidence in my reference and research abilities.

But one thing I have found comforting, is that the work of public services remains the same; and when I have had the chance to talk to other librarians about these public services, my legal vocabulary doesn’t matter.

One of the chances I recently received to have these discussions was the LLNE 2023 Fall Conference. What I found there was that law librarianship, more than almost any other field I’ve worked in, has been one of the most welcoming and supportive to newer librarians. While I had the privilege of being there with a colleague who facilitated introductions, I don’t think that would have changed the graciousness of the other librarians. Upon being introduced to many different people from all over New England, each librarian was willing to talk to me about the work I’m doing at UMass Law, and the work I would like to do in the future.

The experience made me realize that while I may not know all the buzzwords, keywords, or headnotes, all of that will come with time. But the skills I do have, mean that my work is still good and valuable. From participating in the Service Committee and helping to decide on and promote the fall service project, to attending the conference, being a part of LLNE has made me feel assured in my new career.

LLNE Message from the President

Hello Members,

Welcome to our new members!  I wanted to start off by saying thank you to our committee chairs for all their work over the past year, and to all our members who are volunteering their time by serving on the LLNE committees. 

I’d like to give a special thank you to Michael VanderHeijden, who has rotated off the board after serving as immediate past-president.  Michael also served as chair to the Ad Hoc Strategic Planning Committee and as a member of the Bylaws Committee.  Another special thank you to Anna Lawless-Collins, who has served as president over the past year; because of Anna’s time as president we now have a strategic plan and have implemented a mission statement and goals.

I’d like to welcome Nicholas Mignanelli to the Education Committee this year, who will be serving with Jessica Panella.  Be on the lookout for emails about the Fall meeting coming to your inbox soon. Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to welcome Maureen Quinlan as Vice President/President-Elect!  I look forward to working with Marueen over the course of this year.

As I have taken time to reflect on my own time within LLNE, I’ll never forget the warm and kind welcome I received as a new member.  It was a chaotic time for me as I was gearing up for law school finals.  I walked into my first Access to Justice/Service Committee meeting not knowing anyone in the room.  We met at a member’s home (whom I also did not personally know).  The librarians I met that day welcomed me in a way I hadn’t experienced before.  I know I had found my place.

I hope that this next year brings you joyful reflection on the great work we are doing in LLNE to support each other and our communities.  Please consider volunteering for a committee or leadership role within LLNE. 

Be well,


LLNE Wrap-Up

LLNE’s 2022-2023 year wrapped up with a great Spring meeting on the NextGen Bar exam. New England School of Law Boston put on an excellent, informative program that raised money for three different scholarship funds to help students studying for the bar. 

The LLNE Strategic Planning committee is off and running to define our goals and objectives for the next few years. We will have a mission statement and goals defined in time for Sara’s year as president to begin. The Ethical Principles committee is also getting started and will implement the ethical principles LLNE agreed to last year. The Bylaws committee wrapped up its work this year and the updated bylaws were officially adopted at the Spring meeting. 

All the LLNE committees had a wonderful year; look for the upcoming Annual Report to summarize committee activities for the year. Thank you all for another productive year in LLNE! 

Anna Lawless Collins, BU Law, outgoing LLNE President

Sara Monalea McMahon, Hampshire Law Library, incoming LLNE President

BC Law Library and WNE School of Law Library Win the Excellence in Community Engagement Award from AALL

Good afternoon LLNE! We want to congratulate Boston College Law Library and Western New England School of Law Library for winning the Excellence in Community Engagement Award from AALL! See the information below:


Boston College Law Library

Newton Centre, Massachusetts

Social Media: A Method to Increase Engagement for Library Services


Western New England University School of Law Library

Springfield, Massachusetts

Introduction to Law Collaboration with Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School

Way to represent LLNE!

Government Relations Committee Update

Members of the GRC are continuing to track state legislation of interest to law librarians.  

In Massachusetts, Representative Gentile filed H.1522, An Act relative to the Uniform Electronic Material Act, and it has been referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. UELMA requires that online state legal material deemed official will be preserved and made permanently available to the public in unaltered form, and has been adopted in 22 states, plus Washington, DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Although past iterations of this bill have not been successful in Massachusetts, we will renew our advocacy efforts on this new bill’s behalf. 

Additionally, though not specific to the law, GRC members in New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island noted several obscene material bills introduced in those states this session and are tracking their potential impact on libraries. 


Catherine Biondo and Emilie Benoit, LLNE GRC Co-Chairs

News from the Education Committee

The Education Committee is happy to announce that New England Law | Boston is hosting the spring LLNE meeting. ABLL will co-host the event.  Kristin McCarthy and the staff at the New England Law | Boston Library have been organizing the event for the past few months.

The meeting will take place on Friday, April 14, 2023 at the MCLE Conference Center in Boston. The topic will be “A NextGen Curriculum for a NextGen Bar.”  As many of you know, the first administration of the new bar exam will be July of 2026. Because the new bar examination will be testing foundational skills along with doctrinal subjects, many of us view the new bar exam as an opportunity for greater attention to fundamental skills, but have concerns about how the exam will test these skills. How can we best prepare students, and what curriculum changes should be made to ensure our students are ready? 

We are fortunate to have a number of highly knowledgeable speakers and presenters on the NextGen bar and skills curriculum at this conference.  Marilyn Wellington, Chief Strategy and Operations Officer for the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) will be the keynote speaker.  Marilyn is leading the NCBE’s development of the Next Generation Bar Exam.

Associate Dean Hemanth Gundavaram from Northeastern University School of Law will also be speaking.  Associate Dean Gundavaram presented at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego on the NextGen Bar and was on the NCBE Content Scope Committee.  Associate Professor Dennis Prieto from Rutgers Law School was a panelist at the conference.  Associate Professor Prieto is the one reference librarian on the NCBE Content Scope Committee, and we are interested in his thoughts on testing research skills.

Additionally, Dean Lisa Freudenheim of New England Law | Boston will address meeting attendees from the viewpoint of an administrator guiding the entire educational program for a law school. Dean Freudenheim has a background in academic support, which gives her a unique perspective on teaching and law school pedagogy.

As always, there will be an LLNE Business Meeting at lunch, opportunities to see new products from vendors and, most importantly, a chance to catch up with colleagues and friends.

The MCLE office is conveniently located within walking distance of South Station and the Red Line.

Many law libraries and many law librarians in New England have helped plan and host these semiannual events over the years. We all know the incredible amount of time and effort that goes into planning the meeting. Thank you to Kristin McCarthy and New England Law | Boston for hosting. Thank you to everyone who has hosted and planned a conference in the past. The tradition continues. Have a great spring semester.  

Spring 2023 Welcome Message

Welcome to a new year! As we begin this time of renewal, I’ve been thinking about the direction in which LLNE is headed. The executive board recently held a strategic planning retreat, and many of you participated in a survey about where LLNE currently is and where we should go over the next five years. You identified several strengths we have, like our people, that we’re innovative, and our programming. You also identified some areas of weakness, which the board hopes to address through the goals we set at the retreat. Look for more on those as the strategic plan takes shape.

Speaking of programming, I’m looking forward to the spring meeting on the NextGen bar exam, hosted by New England Law Boston at MCLE on April 14th! I hope to see you there. The NextGen bar exam, with its new focus on legal research, is a real opportunity for LLNE and its membership to work together on what students and new attorneys need to know.

The future of LLNE is bright, and that’s because of all of you, the LLNE membership. As we consider the direction in which we need to move, I am grateful that all of you are part of this strong, innovative organization.

Anna Lawless-Collins, LLNE President

Anna Lawless-Collins
Associate Director for Systems & Collection Services
Boston University
Fineman & Pappas Law Libraries

Update from the Service Committee

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” – Herman Melville

The Service Committee has been busy connecting LLNE/ABLL members with opportunities to help others. For the Fall 2022 Service Project, we solicited monetary support for the Whaling Museum and we sponsored a book drive to support Wash & Read, an initiative of United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Women United, which distributes books to local laundromats. Donations to the Whaling Museum helped the museum provide free programming, such as AHA! NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. We had great participation in the book drive, with members donating 36 books. We received a lovely thank you card from Paula Montgomery, Women United Director.

Our next service opportunity is in conjunction with the upcoming Virtual Trivia Night in January. One reason that we are sponsoring Action For Boston Community Development is because LLNE/ABLL members can choose to support a specific program, such as fuel assistance, food pantries & programs, winter fund, or have their donation applied where it is most needed. More details to follow soon.

Looking ahead to the Spring Service Project, we want to focus on a service activity that members can participate in. John, Stephanie, and I would love to have some company on the Service Committee! If you have some ideas or just love helping others (and what librarian doesn’t?) consider joining our awesome committee.

Government Relations Committee Update

On September 30, 2022, President Biden issued an Executive Order providing for reestablishment of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH).  The Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will co-lead the reinstituted PCAH and will provide advice to the President on policy goals, charitable and private sector engagement and other matters to improve federal support and funding for library and museum services, the arts, and the humanities. “This joint initiative acknowledges the essential role of . . . library services in our society and democracy including civic life, economic opportunity and development, health and wellness, education, equity, climate, and social cohesion. In the spirit of the order, IMLS will be developing partnerships with other federal agencies to advance opportunities to utilize the arts, humanities, museums, and libraries to connect communities across the country with important information and resources.” More information can be found at: President Biden Issues Executive Order Reestablishing President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH); IMLS Director to Co-Lead Committee (Oct. 3, 2022)

The UELMA in Massachusetts Subcommittee continues to advocate for passage of this legislation, and thanks all Massachusetts LLNE members who reached out to their legislators this past year to request support H.1597 – An Act Relative to the Uniform Electronic Material Act.  At latest report, H.1597 accompanied a study order from the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, and was referred to the Committee on Joint Rules.  If you are interested in working with us on UELMA advocacy, please let us know.

There is little to report at this point in the legislative sessions of our New England states, and we are continuing to monitor developments of interest to concerned law librarians.  If you become aware of legislative or policy developments of interest to law librarians, please contact Catherine or Emilie, GRC Co-chairs, who monitor Massachusetts and Rhode Island respectively, or your GRC state representatives/committee members:  Mary Tartaglia in Connecticut; Maureen Quinlan in Maine; Sue Zago in New Hampshire; and Jane Woldow in Vermont.  We will report any relevant information to the membership. 

Regular updates from the GRC and discussion posts appear on the AALL Advocates community list (it’s easy to sign up for the list if you’re not already receiving the emails.  Just click on “Participate” at the top of the page, select “AALL Advocates” and click “Join”). 


Catherine Biondo and Emilie Benoit, LLNE GRC Co-Chairs